Proposal could mean return of streetcars to Baton Rouge - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Proposal could mean return of streetcars to Baton Rouge

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A picture from above shows a streetcar passing through Baton Rouge. A picture from above shows a streetcar passing through Baton Rouge.
Remnants of the old streetcar line are still visible around Baton Rouge. Remnants of the old streetcar line are still visible around Baton Rouge.
This is the bench that holds special memories for Polly Stevens. This is the bench that holds special memories for Polly Stevens.
Polly Stevens Polly Stevens
Davis Rhorer Davis Rhorer
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

A proposed streetcar line is in the works for Baton Rouge, something not seen in the Capital City since the 1930s and while one woman talks about owning a piece of that history, others are talking about a modern version.

It may look like an ordinary bench, but for Polly Stevens, it holds memories of the church where her husband was a pastor for 20 years.

"When we left the church, we wanted the benches," Stevens said. "So each member, if they wanted one, I don't remember if we purchased them, but it wasn't very much if it was any. They were in our Sunday school rooms."

Those benches are a big part of Baton Rouge history and that history could soon be repeating itself. Stevens was told they were once used as seats in old streetcars. Davis Rhorer, director of the Downtown Development District director, heard about the old transportation system from his grandmother.

"It would connect you to the downtown area and would go right down East Boulevard, which is a historic street," Rhorer said. "It was a form of transportation, the way people used it back in the early teens and 20s."

He added Baton Rouge could soon see the return of the streetcar. The proposed 3.5-mile line would run down Nicholson Drive connecting all of downtown's new developments to LSU.

"Daily, if students wanted to come downtown or if someone downtown needs to get to campus, it's a great way to do it. The people living and working in the corridor itself, it's a great means to move them," Rhorer explained.

The streetcar is reportedly expected to cost about $60 million, most of which would come from federal money dedicated to projects like this one. While the city works with consultants on the final plans, Stevens is enjoying her piece of the old system and all of the memories it brings to her.

"There's just a lot of things that go with old stuff. You just wonder who sat there, who visited there and how it was," she added.

Many might wonder what would happen to CATS if the streetcar returns and routes expand. Rhorer hopes things would work sort of like it does in New Orleans, where the streetcar systems keep running alongside the buses.

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